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Saturday, February 19, 2011

On Ballet, Cowboys, and Belly Dance

OK, here’s my second blog post.  I’m really excited about this whole blog thing.  My first post was short, but it didn’t start out that way.  No, ma’am.  It went on for pages.  After I cut the fat, not much was left.  Maybe I’m trying too hard and need to just let it flow.  One reason I wanted to start a blog was for the self-discipline.  I’m having trouble making myself do things, even things I really like to do, like write.  If I have an assignment and a deadline, no problem.  But without that, I get lazy and procrastinate.  My hope is that a blog will provide a kind of ready-made, ongoing deadline.  My future readers (I’m being optimistic!) will know if I dropped the ball, so that makes me accountable to someone besides myself. 
I used to not have to worry about making myself do things, because I had a JOB.  But totally out of the blue, I lost my job almost exactly a year ago.  That’s a whole ‘nother story, but I mention it here because it explains why I don’t have deadlines anymore.  I’ve gotten pretty lazy, in fact.  Although I do have a goal of sorts, it is fuzzy.  I want to write.  I have written off and on most of my life.  And in the past year I have dibble dabbled in writing.  For example, I write the newsletter for the local, small town humane society.   When the newsletter deadline looms, I am galvanized into intense writing activity for a week or two before it has to go out.  Otherwise I coast.  With the blog, I’ll have a regular, daily deadline to meet.  My intention is to write at least one post a day.  No, I WILL write at least one post a day.  I figure that if I can keep up a blog once a day, I will go on to write other stuff, too.  So whether anybody reads it or not, it is serving a good purpose. 
More about why I chose belly dance as a topic:
I’ve always loved to dance.  I mean, what little girl doesn’t want to be a ballerina?  By the age of five,  I was enrolled in tap and ballet classes at Billie Lu’s School of Dance in Odessa.  Yes, even in the vast and barren deserts of West Texas, you could find culture.  I still have photos of me in recital costumes and bright red lipstick.  I eventually dropped the tap but kept taking ballet into my teenage years.  In junior high I quit for some reason I don’t recall, and I regret it.  (I quit piano lessons about the same time, and I regret that, too.)  Not that I had a chance to go on to be a professional dancer.  Besides being too tall, I didn’t have enough talent to go that far.  In college I started taking ballet again and continued off and on into my thirties.  But ballet is a demanding discipline, and not many people, even professionals, can keep dancing beyond their twenties or thirties.  It’s like being an athlete.  (Dancers are athletes.)  Only someone really outstanding, like Margot Fonteyn, can keep on after age 40.   
But I still wanted to dance.  In my thirties, when I was a single mom, I started going to country dance halls with my friend Nancy.  Cowboys (mostly the urban variety) would ask us to dance, and we'd spin around the dance floor doing the two step, the waltz, and other C&W standards.  It was a blast, especially if you got a good partner who could lead you into steps you didn’t know you could do.  I started taking lessons so I could do more.  (An aside here.  I would have taken ballroom dance lessons instead of going the country route, but there was no place to dance ballroom except in a studio.  On the other hand, Texas is full of country dance halls.  Even though C&W is considered the poor cousin of ballroom dance – at least to ballroom dancers – it has a definite technique and is just as much fun.  Plus you can do it wearing jeans.)  My future husband and I met at a dance hall.  I practically had him sign a prenup that we would keep dancing after we got married, and that’s what we did, at least once a week. 
Then disaster struck.  My husband’s knees started to go bad.  We had to put up our dancing boots while doctors messed around with his knees.  A couple of years and a partial knee replacement later, things looked good for my husband.  Then my left hip went bad.  How did this happen?  I hurt myself doing lunges at the gym.  (My orthopedic doc has since told me lunges are a terrible idea.  It’s not whether you will get injured, but when.)  For the next few years, my hip was an ongoing problem.  Not only could I not dance, often I couldn’t even walk without limping.  Every once in awhile we ventured out to a dance hall, but my hip just couldn’t hold up for long.
Here’s where belly dance comes in.  After I lost my job last year, I had a lot of newfound time and freedom.  I wanted to find some kind of dance I could still do.  I didn’t know much about belly dance, but I had seen local troupes perform.  It looked like fun, plus it was low impact.  I thought, what the heck, I’ll give it a shot.  At my very first class, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the hip movements, which are a basic component of belly dance, were not painful.  So I kept going.  A couple of months went by.  One day I realized that my hip didn’t hurt anymore.  Gone was the pain.  Gone was the stiffness.  Gone was the limping.  I felt like the cripple who threw away his crutches.  It felt pretty darn close to a miracle.  That alone is a good reason for me to love belly dance.  But there are  many more.

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